Jimmy Rosemond: Henchmen No More
What is Czar Entertainment?
Czar Entertainment is a full service management company that handles the careers of a lot of artists. We manage the likes of the Game, Mario Winans, Brandy, Sharissa, Smitty, Trillville and a few other rap acts. We consult various record companies on certain things and we negotiate deals that people may bring us in, be it sports. Weve done boxing and things of that nature.
Do you still manage Guerilla Black?
Not recently. I think after Guerilla Black and Virgin kind of parted their ways, I just had to Guerilla wanted to take a break and figure out what he wanted to do. So were not actively working with him now.
What do you think makes you so successful?
Now I have the experience of what Im doing and that has made me a forefront person in the game. My theory and philosophy has always been that hard work, and if youre learning from that hard work, and you channel that hard work into a good direction, that youre going to get a lot of good results out of that. A lot of people dont want to work hard. They want to work at leisure and think thats how it is. I can remember when Puffy first started out, the amount of hard work he put in you can see why now he reaps the benefit of what he has.
But Ive seen people work hard and get nowhere.
Its because theyre not learning from that. And I have a good network of people that I have relationships with. 40% of it all is relationships because you have to get things done without going through the red tape and bureaucracy that you can sometimes go through with record companies. The relationships are very important the hard work of being focused, and then getting the results and then understanding what the artist needs. You have to deal with every artist differently. Every artist has their own personality and egos that have to be stroked, some more than others. And you have to know how to deal with all of those things.
Would you say any of it is luck?
Absolutely. I think another 30% of it is timing and luck. You figure, the know-how will definitely come to play but definitely luck is a big factor and timing. Its a matter of understanding all of those elements. I think hit records, if everything is aligned right, the stars are aligned right, its going to go.
What do you look for when you sign new talent?
Its all a gamble. The likelihood of you breaking an act, you know what it takes. If the person has the personality, the showmanship. You look for all of those types of things. And you look at if their style is like any other people. I always look for originality. I always look for it being different and for it to stand out from whats going on. Some people like to piggyback. If theres a guy who sounds like a certain person, some people like to bring out that same kind of style. I think people that really hit is people that have their own original style, and is able to bring that out in the forefront. Thats what I look for.
Was it difficult for you then that people compared Guerilla Black to Biggie?
I think Guerilla Black was a challenge of, do I really know this business and my philosophy that hit records cure all doubt. As much as I did it for Guerilla Black, I did it also for myself. I went against all odds on that one. Everyone told me not to touch it but we delivered the hit records. All they could do was compare him with Biggie, not that the records were wack. I would rather them say he looks like Biggie instead of them saying he had a wack record. In that instance, that was a lot of my know-how and having a hit record that made Guerilla Black survive that whole situation.
How did you and Game hook up?
A guy by the name of D Mac discovered him. Me and D Mac are close. One of the things I did for Game was, when he did a mixtape I gave it to Kay Slay and DJ Clue, which made him a guy, coming out of the West Coast to really break in the East Coast. I did that on the strength of knowing D Mac and him. When it came time to, after he got his deal with Aftermath through him being hot, he called and asked me to manage him.
As his manager, how did you feel when Game decided to go against 50 Cent?
One thing that I have to do as a manager, I have to ride with my artist. I dont think that Game was wrong in that whole situation. I at least fight for what I believe is right. We didnt know where it would take us. We knew we were in a situation that was wrong for him. I think it worked out for the better at the end of the day. It isnt that youre fighting blindly, but you know what you want in your heart. That was what I seen in Game. He knew he didnt want to be a part of that anymore. I had to ride with him and prepare him for the battle and what was going to come going against 50. I think it all worked out for the best. Hes his own individual and he has a whole Coast he has to bring back. A lot of times when youre signed to an artist himself its hard to become even bigger than that artist. He doesnt have that impediment right now, especially not with Dr. Dre.
Were you afraid there would be violence?
Nobody wants to see violence. I have to commend both 50 and Game because they set the example when it could have been physical, they held a conference. They squashed it. They showed they was an example that you have choices you can make in these types of situations. At least they kept it to the verbal part of it. That is normal in hip hop. At least they went back to that versus they trying to gun down each other. Even the crews clashing, none of that has happened since that unfortunate situation at Hot 97.
You seem to be good at branding your artists, like now Game has his Hurricane shoe.
Corporate America is always looking to get involved with the hip hop community and those people that they cater to. First we were going to go to Reebok, but theyre a little crowded over there with Jay-Z and G-Unit. So we went to Sketchers and they put us on to 310. My point is always that if youre looking to get the demographic that theyre looking to sell their product to, and Game reaches that demographic then he can be that spokesperson for them. I think what the sneakers did for him was that it was really his report card to corporate America of where his selling power really is. Branding is important because its a whole other way of keeping your artist out there even when he doesnt have a record, of keeping your artist relevant.
How did you broker your new deal with Brandy?
I think Brandy wanted a change of ideas. Im just glad that she picked me to bring them new ideas. Everything thats innovative in the game, sometimes people have their old ways of doing things. Brandy needs a liberation of the whole family mode. The mother has taken a role as more of a consultant that the managerial role. We work closely with the mother. Im here to bring those innovative ideas to make Brandy current and relevant again back in the marketplace.
What happened with Sharissa?
I delivered the record with R. Kelly and did the video. And Virgin just couldnt deliver the radio for me. I know it wasnt a bad record. Unfortunately, her stuff didnt work out at Virgin. Im the type of guy that I ride all the way with my artist. If she wants to do this again, Ill ride with her.
Talk about your community involvement.
Clef is a very good friend of mine. Im a Haitian American. Clef has been doing many things for Haiti in the past 3-4 years. Just recently he asked me to go down there with him. I went down there to see the conditions of the people and understand how they were living to see how I could help. Ive always been an advocate of going into the penitentiaries because I was a troubled youth as an adolescent and talking to those adolescents because I dont remember anyone talking to me when I was in those situations. My way of giving back is giving good advice. Also, to give back to the young people who still have a chance to change their life and their way of thinking so that they dont have to take the route that so many of us take. Letting them know there is a choice. It took me to be in my late 20s to say, I dont want to do this no more and change my lifestyle and situation. Its all a mental thing. Outside of that. Im looking to get more involved with Yele Haiti Foundation that Clef has founded for the Haitian people. That charity actually touches the people. Hes going into the neighborhoods and giving people jobs with the money donated to that charity. Thats something I want to be a part of because for so long Ive neglected my heritage and ancestry of Haiti. Now I want to be able to give back to the country, especially that were able to raise money. Its a shame that a country thats only an hour and half always from America is in the state that its in. So anything that we can do to create the awareness of the plight of the Haitian people, thats what I want to be a part of.
From what Ive read about you, your life seems to have been a long, troubled journey
If I could change the way I was brought up, I dont know if I would change it because I dont know if it would make me the person I am today. There are a lot of values and principles that you gain from the tribulations you go through. My experience has humbled me to the extent it has allowed me to do my job the way I do my job. Its no doubt it has been a troublesome career and history in me coming up. Im glad Im able to get back, where Im in a position where I can go in the penitentiary, write to people in the penitentiary. And my cause isnt just for people who are locked up. I also give jobs to people at my company. I also do an internship for people in high school to see the workings of a management company. Thats important for people to see the options and be inspired. I want to use my experience to help some people not to take the same route I have taken. Im not boastful of what Ive been through. I feel ashamed of some of the things. Im sure there are more things I have to go through. At least I can talk from experience and share some wisdom.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
What makes me feel the proudest about myself is Im a 10th grade drop-out, went to get my GED, when Im sitting in a boardroom at Showtime or Interscope and Im having rational conversations with people who went to school their whole life, thats my biggest achievement. Ive overwhelmed by that, having those conversations knowing where I come from. That always gives me butterflies. It made me the person that I am because I dont believe that theres no one superior mentally, when it comes down to negotiating, Im equal to whoever. I feel good about that. I tell people, if you really put your mind to it, you can really achieve anything you want to achieve. I have to tell lawyers how to write contracts, and thats amazing to me.
Who inspires you?
Im a student of history. Definitely coming up in the late 70s-80s, there was that revolutionary energy in the atmosphere. Those who recently have been my mentors and guided me, especially when I came out of the penitentiary have been Barry Hankerson, Kedar Massenburg, Shakim Campare. They have really, unwaveringly supported me even during my trials and tribulations. I wish there were more people like that. You have people who stay away from guys like me. Some people truly feel like this guy deserves a shot. Shakim, when I first got in the game in 92, taking me into meetings with Tommy Mottola and breaking that ice. Barry Hankerson, who during my last situation allowed me to work on Romeo Must Die and Exit Wounds, which put me right back into the game and set me up to be where Im at right now. Kedar was my peer as manager. While I was managing Groove Theory, he was managing DAngelo. When I did my stint, he became President of Motown and when I came home he gave me a deal with Motown. These three have assisted me in my long road to where Im at right now.
Any thoughts on Biggie since today is the anniversary of his death?
Biggie, we always going to remember this date. Its unfortunate because I know he had so much more to give to the business. Its unfortunate he died the way he died, violently. My heart goes out to his mother. I remember going to his mothers house and she has on the mantle the vase of Biggies remains and a picture. I almost cried just seeing that. I almost felt like he was right there. He went out like the greatest rapper of all time. I always say that Biggie was a lyrical God.
For someone with such a controversial past, you seem very serene to me.
I always say somehow I have become the villain. People expect it to be that. It really aint. I always say its no way I can do the things that I do if I dont do good business. I cant do what I do for Game or Brandy or Mario Winans if I was really the kind of guy people portray me to be. I know for a fact there aint too many people that can say bad things about me. Im the go-to guy when there is a problem to try and solve the problem. I dont create the problem. I dont understand why Im even looked at as this dark force of the music industry. I dont know how that happened. Thats prompted me to drop the Henchmen and go with my sir name.